Private school admits safety errors after groundskeeper’s death

An elite Melbourne private school has pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe workplace after a groundskeeper was killed while pruning trees.

Kym Page, 38, was working at Haileybury College’s Berwick campus when he suffered fatal head injuries from a falling tree branch on February 14, 2018.

On Wednesday principal Derek Scott faced Melbourne Magistrates Court, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to provide a safe workplace, admitting he failed to keep employees safe.

Derek Scott, the principal of Haileybury.Credit:Eddie Jim

The charges relate to Haileybury’s failure to provide or maintain systems of safe work or provide necessary instruction or training to employees, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2005.

Documents released to the media show Mr Page was working for Haileybury when he was tasked with cutting tree branches with a chainsaw.

A WorkSafe investigation found there was a risk of serious injury or death from being struck by tree branches if employees attempted the task without the required expertise or protective equipment. Mr Page was not wearing that equipment when he died.

Haileybury’s Berwick campus.Credit:

The matter was set to proceed to a contested committal later this year, before a last-minute plea deal led to an agreement being reached shortly before Wednesday’s hearing, the court heard.

The college paid tribute to Mr Page in its school newsletter shortly after his death.

“Kym was passionate about this role at Haileybury,” it said. “His work contributed to the beauty of the grounds that we admire today and to the access that our students have to incredible fields, ovals and gardens.”

The matter is scheduled to proceed to the County Court on November 24.

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